Software – what needs to be done for Europe to move from ‘use’ to ‘creation’ – Workshop report

Brussels - The second workshop of the European Commission initiative on leadership skills for the high-tech economy took place on 20 April 2016. It was consulting experts on recommendations which they were asked to formulate as potential policy actions with an interest in delivery, scalability and sectoral focuses, aiming at new skills development and the strategy to achieve this. Preference was to be given to joint activities with Member States able to make use of existing European Commission funding instruments. The expert recommendations for action have been described in more detail in the workshop report which can be obtained from empirica (see contact details below). These will be included and considered in the further development of the overall set of recommendations and are addressing the following key points:

.         Software as a strategic weapon

·         Towards new approaches and structures in education, training and research

·         One size does NOT fit all – diverse pathways to digital leadership training for SMEs

·         Build ecosystems that create ecosystems

·         Coexistence of formal certification, light weight certification and digital badges

·         Diagnostic tools

·         Take two in one: alignment of digital leadership skills and entrepreneurship skills policy and education and training activities

·         New ways of financing and funding.

The workshop was organised against the background of an article by Marc Andreesen in 2011 (Why software is eating the world) in which the author demonstrates that more and more major businesses and industries are being run on software and delivered as online services, that software programming tools and Internet-based services make it easy to launch new global software-powered start-ups in many industries and that software is eating much of the value chain of industries that are widely viewed as primarily existing in the physical world. Software enables one to create new economies and markets that only exist in cyberspace (Internet).

In the USA software is the largest single investment category and software has become key for driving growth and jobs. It is the case of innovation and in the very end only innovation is driving growth. However, decision and policy makers in the European economy missed the move from ‘analogue’ to ‘digital’. If Europe wants to succeed it has to change over from the ‘use’ of software and services to software ‘creation’ to become really innovative, globally competitive and successful in the market today and in the future. Organisations in Europe need to regain their competitive position by improving leadership of software-driven business innovation.

Focussing on strategic priorities is needed to meet the ambitious targets of the proposed European long-term agenda on ‘Leadership skills for a high-tech economy’. These together with recommendations were derived from those identified in relevant precursor studies and activities including the European e-Leadership Initiative which started in 2013 (see and which was continued in 2014 by also addressing SME and start-ups ( and ended in late 2015 and the KETs Skills Initiative (‘Vision and sectoral pilot on skills for key enabling technologies’) which ended in 2016. These recommendations were and will continue to be validated, enhanced and further developed in discussions and consultations with stakeholders by what the experts envisage as relevant and most important strategic priorities and recommendations addressed to different policy makers and stakeholders at all levels and the necessary actions resulting from these. The next workshops will take place in Brussels on 22 September 2016 and 24 November 2016.

Contact: Werner B. Korte: scale(at)empirica(dot)com


A service contract has been awarded in December 2013 by the European Commission to a consortium led by empirica to undertake this work.

The event is supported by the EC in the scope of the service contract to promote e-leadership in Europe (LEAD)